Longtime Jackson County employees, who have a lot at stake as the county fights the Public Employees’ Retirement System over vacation and sick leave policies, learned today that there’s great risk no matter what they decide to do with their accruals.

The county retirement benefit debate cropped up near the end of 2011, and — when combined with the Singing River Health System’s private pension woes — means thousands of Jackson County employees fear how their retirements will look.

PERS and the county are still haggling over the benefits, and an appeal is before the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Essentially, Jackson County argues that its employees are eligible for 480 hours of sick leave and 240 hours of personal leave each year. If it’s not used, it can be rolled over.

For some longtime employees, that has accumulated into thousands of hours of leave, which could be applied to bump up retirement benefits later.

PERS, however, argues that Jackson County’s own policies from 2010 were “vague” and prevented the leave from rolling over and accruing.

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